utilities point out the surcharge only kicks in when there has been a major outage affecting at least 100,000 customers. and they need the extra fee to help balance losses. it's an estimated 49 cents for each bge customer gl. it isn't even the number of dollars. it's the idea that the customer has had tremendous damage that's occurred. >> reporter: residents argue they lost money, too, on unrefringe rated food -- unrefrigerated food that spoiled, meals out, hotel and pet ware costs along with gas generators. >> customers have to then say by the way, not only are you not going to get anything from the company but you have to pay the company for the amount they didn't receive because they didn't deliver you any electricity. >> reporter: no one is sure how soon the commission will make its decision. it could be a matter of weeks or months. hopefully before the next big storm. in baltimore, andrea mccarren, 9news now. three students of ballou high school in southeast d.c.